The Sanskrit word Vihar means monastery and it is only natural that the State of Bihar should have a very large number of temples. Most of the temples of Bihar were built of bricks and have been subject to the ravages of time. The relics of ancient Pataliputra are mostly in bricks. Nalanda and Rajgir have both brick and stone temples. The images are usually of black stone and there is an abundant supply of stone-hard and soft-for making the images within the State. Many of the temples that we now see in Bihar are not very old. The temple of Mundeshwari near Bhabua in Shahabad district, which has been described in the text, is commonly accepted as the oldest temple in Bihar. But the legends clearly indicate that there must have many more ancient temples in different parts of Bihar. It may be worthwhile to have an inquiry as to whether some of the temples have not replaced older ones. This question arises because we see temples that are not very old, in which more ancient deities are installed. The temples of Lord Shiva at Deoghar (Santal Parganas district), at Singheshwarsthan (Saharsa district) and at Sonepur (Saran district) are instances. Legends and historic data definitely show that at many places the deities are more ancient than the temples.
The temples of Bihar do not all have the curvilinear Sikharas that are said to be the common type throughout North India. The temples particularly in North Bihar are of different type, while those in South Bihar usually follow the pattern of temples particularly in North Bihar are of a different type, while those in South Bihar usually follow the pattern of temples with sikharcs. With the exception of the Buddha Gaya temple, which is built of stone, and a few other temples, Bihar temples, as a rule, are not covered with sculpture from top to bottom. That is why they do not always present that splendid appearance which the temples of Bhubaneswar of Khajuraho present. Some of the Temples have remarkably independent styles. The famous temple of Baidyanath at Deoghar, the Shiva temple at Basukinath in Santal Parganas, the Vishnupada temple at Gaya, and also some other temples in North Bihar, have got simple but ample domes covering the shrine. In some cases the pillars of the mandapa, if made of stone, are carved and in some cases they are not. Some of the brick-cut temples are very few. Colgong and Umga rock-cut temples in Gaya district are good specimens. We have in Bihar excellent rock-cut sculpture in the temples at Sultanganj, Mandar and at other places, although such specimens are not many.
About the Author:
Graduating, with Honours in English and topping the list in History, in the M.A. examination, P. C. Ray Choudhury, M.A., B.L. (born February 10, 1903, at Cuttack, Orissa), has served in various Government posts of trust and responsibility. Specially selected (1952) to re-write the District Gazetteers of Bihar, he continues, though superannuated (1957), to function as the State editor of the District Gazetteers. Trained, as he was, in research by the late Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Shri Roy Choudhury has by now re-written fifteen District Gazetteers and very ably too. It is a measure of his flair for administrative work, comprehensive research, tours, personal contacts, and collation of data, not to speak of drafting. He had occasion to visit kathmandu, Jaipur and Bhubaneshwar, being officially invited by the Governments concerned for advising them on Gazetteer work. Shri Roy Choudhury has also compiled digests of old English Correspondence and other records in Saran, Hazaribagh, Gaya and Muzaffarpur and a research work, as well, on the 1857 movement in Chotanagpur and Santal Parganas, all of which have been published by the Bihar Government. His other Published books are Jainism in Bihar, Inside Bihar and Gandhiji's First Struggle in India. He is also a scholarly free-lance writer in English as well as in Bengali.
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